A West Riverside landowner is looking to develop a sliver of property off Montana Highway 200, but whether it becomes housing or commercial may depend on what type of sanitation would best serve the area.
Bruce Troutwine, whose family owns three acres within a larger 27-acre parcel, has looked at developing his property with housing. But his plans could change if the larger property goes toward commercial development.
“We can do all the land-use planning we want, but if there’s no sanitation solution, no buyers, nothing’s going to happen,” he told Missoula County commissioners Wednesday. “So what comes first?”
Troutwine said the service options include a community treatment facility or a connection to city services, though it doesn’t currently extend that far east.
He also promoted a smaller on-site system, which has been approved for use by the state. A feasibility study is in the works, Troutwine said, adding that the 27-acre parcel is owned by nine different holders.
“It would be a good idea to try and group these landowners together in a common way,” Troutwine said. “I have a personal connection with all but two of them.”
The city defines the area as community commercial, though it lies outside city limits. The county lists the property as unzoned.
James Grunke, executive director of the Missoula Economic Partnership, said the 27 acres have great potential given the location. How the area is serviced would likely dictate what takes shape on the land.
“If this becomes a viable solution in the county, maybe (Troutwine’s) three acres don’t go into residential,” Grunke said. “You could build commercial. It has ramifications for the whole community on what goes on out there.”
Troutwine said he initially considered building houses on his property at a density of four dwellings per acre. They would be serviced with a passive aerobic wastewater treatment system.
Yet he remains unsure if a community or city system is planned, or will be in the near future. If the city did extend its service, he said he’d be required to connect.
“Before we went to any developers or builders, we wanted to see what was possible with sanitation,” Troutwine said. “It’s been sitting stagnant for 35 years. I want to do something that will improve the neighborhood.”
The area between West Riverside and Milltown is becoming more populated and industrialized. Several new businesses have opened up, including Harris Manufacturing.
KettleHouse Brewing Co. plans to open a plant nearby.
“This property has highway frontage,” Troutwine said. “You can see it from (Interstate 90) heading east or west. There’s a lot that can be done here.”